Fish Tank Setup: Tips For The Aquarium Novice

  • You want a new hobby and you fascinate beautifully designed underwater landscapes? Then the aquarium is just right for you! How to setup an aquarium, what you need and what you need to know, you can read here.
  • In our overview you will learn how to set up your aquarium step by step:
  • Select aquarium and determine location
  • Obtain and use aquarium technology
  • Fill in the ground
  • Hardscape: decorate aquarium
  • Softscape: Plant aquarium
  • Fill in lukewarm water
  • Dose water purifier and cleaning bacteria according to instructions
  • start-up phase
  • Insert fish
  • Feed fish
  • Inform yourself in detail below about the aquarium equipment and become an aquarist!

Set up the aquarium

#:Set up the aquarium
  • Several decades ago, it was “fashionable” to keep goldfish in a round glass of water. Of course, this type of attitude is absolutely unsuitable for maintaining fish permanently. Round glass basins equally reflect noise echoes from all directions so that the fish is unable to orient themselves over the lateral line organ. Rectangular aquariums are therefore particularly important because the sound waves are not reflected uniformly and a location of objects and possible predators is facilitated.
  • Aquariums are available in different shapes, sizes and decors. They are available with and without technical accessories . The classic beginner’s sets are usually delivered with a lid, lighting, an internal filter and a heating element. Technically, this is the absolute basic equipment. Depending on their size, some aquarium sets already have powerful external filters.
  • However, the first rule is that the larger the aquarium, the more stable the water levels, and the fewer problems that arise over time. Aquariums are already available from ten liters. They call themselves nano aquarium sand are only suitable for shrimp, dwarf crabs and snails. A beginner usually starts with a classic beginner aquarium with 60 x 30 x 30 cm edge length. It then contains about 54 liters of water and is the minimum size to maintain underwater vertebrates. However, it is not a problem to start with aquarium dimensions of 80 cm or 100 cm edge length. Of course, this also depends on the space available and the final size of the later Fischbesatzes. Either you have limited space in the room and you have to adjust the stock to your aquarium or you have selected a certain type of fish to care for and adapted the aquarium to the growth end size of your fish. The last method of size selection is more satisfying in the long run.

.The site:

  • Before you can set up the aquarium, a suitable location for the aquarium should be chosen. Direct sunlight through windows is to be avoided, as well as places near the door or directly next to speakers of the hi-fi system. We recommend areas that can be comfortably watched from the dining table or from the couch to enjoy the time in front of the aquarium.
  • If you bought an aquarium without a base cabinet, you should use a piece of furniture that withstands the weight (every liter of water weighs one kilogram, plus decoration and gravel) and is water-repellent. Slight unevenness of the cabinet or the substrate in the millimeter range are compensated with a fine foam mat, so it does not cause tensions in the glass of the aquarium and cracks are avoided. In aquarium combinations (including base cabinet) such mats are usually not needed. However, a spirit level should always be used to check for a level position.


  • Of course, an aquarium needs a lot of technology. That’s the only way to guarantee a smooth “aquarium operation” and thus ensure a balanced ecosystem with healthy and colorful fish, for the best water quality and beautiful plants.

.The filter:

  • The filter is the heart of the aquarium. It circulates the water and cleansing bacteria break down highly toxic excretions. At the same time, algae growth is greatly reduced by filtering the water.
  • For aquaria up to 120 liters, internal filters are a good choice. They are mounted on the back wall of the pool by means of rubber suckers and can be visually laminated by higher decorative objects and underwater plants. External filters are recommended for larger aquariums. They stand in the cabinet below the aquarium and are connected by hoses with the aquarium water. The pump inside the filter container creates a circulation of water to produce a filter circuit. Since the tank is not in the aquarium, less space for fish and plants is “wasted”, making the underwater world more harmonious. Internal filters are cleaned monthly, external filters usually once every three months.
  • Of course, the filter must be permanently in operation and must never be switched via a timer. Cleansing bacteria would die after switching off the filter within a short time and disturb the balance in the water.

.The heating rod:

  • The heating element is normally less responsible for heating the water, but rather for maintaining a uniform and constant temperature. Day-night fluctuations are avoided by an automatic switch-off function of the heater when the minimum temperature is reached, so that the small bodies are not stressed too much. Because already two degrees difference in temperature are for a fish, in contrast to humans, already a big and significant difference.
  • The heating element also requires a permanent power supply. This is set to the desired temperature of 24-26°C. It turns on and off automatically, depending on the temperature.

.The lighting:

  • Who wants to set up an aquarium, must not ignore the lighting. The lighting simulates the sunlight. The right bulbs are already included in the aquarium beginner sets. As a rule, they are daylight tubes in warm white and cool white fluorescent colors. If you want to get the most out of color reproduction of the colorful aquarium inhabitants, so-called color lights are ideal. Red and blue tones are highlighted here, making the light in the aquarium much livelier and more intense. If reflectors are additionally used, the illumination intensity of the tubes increases again by about twice. They usually have to be purchased additionally in the trade. For mounting, they are simply attached by clips on the existing tubes and thus they reflect the light down into the aquarium, which would be blasted from the round tube up to the cover. This results in a doubling of the brightness with constant energy consumption – a very useful and efficient method to also strengthen plants in growth.
  • The lighting time should total 10-12 hours and can be switched on and off automatically with a normal timer. A regular day-night rhythm is essential; the plants are dependent on sufficient brightness through proper lighting for their growth (photosynthesis). If some parameters (illumination duration, intensity of illumination, etc.) do not agree, the growth of the plants will also be disturbed. The modern LED illuminant technology has already arrived in the Aquaristik, so here too a contribution to low energy costs and sustainability is created, but at the same time all the demands on brightness and color spectrum are covered.

.The interior:

  • When you have gotten all the accessories, it can finally start: now the real work starts and you can set up your aquarium. But the interior design and decoration of the new aquarium should be well thought out and planned.

.The ground:

  • The ground is usually two layers. First, a nutrient soil (fertilizer, root energy for plants) is introduced and represents about one-third of the total volume of the soil. It provides the plants, which primarily receive their energy through the roots, with all the main nutrients over a long period of time. Then comes a gravel layer about four to six centimeters thick (provides support for the roots of the plants). Kies is the most common solution for entry-level or standard aquariums. The graining of the gravel is at best one to two millimeters in diameter. When buying, make sure that the edges of the gravel grains are already rounded. This is usually the case with quality aquarium gravel from well-known manufacturers. These are taking the trouble Pre-heat the gravel and use a tumbling process to break the sharp edges and corners of the small stones. Bottom fish benefit from rounded gravel especially as they are usually near the ground and rummage the ground with their barbels for food leftovers.
  • Tip: If the ground is poured in the direction of the back wall, the effect will be more intensive, as the floor surface will reach more depth. The color is freely selectable, but natural colors such as brown, black and gray are best suited. Fine sand is more suitable for more specialized aquariums, where special species of fish such as discus, cichlids, rays, etc. are maintained. Because of its fine structure, sand can quickly trap contaminants and develop areas of rot, so it should be applied very thinly (about one to two centimeters) and freed regularly from leftover food. With a soil calculator you can determine what quantity is right for your aquarium.


  • Other decoration as a hiding place and district zone boundary must never be missing and should consist of natural materials. Items from the local forest or garden are not suitable. Old forest roots are 99% underwater and for non-specialty bricks there is a high risk that inclusions of unknown substances / minerals may be present and damage the ecosystem unchecked. Particularly suitable are lava rocks, natural slates, red moor roots and mangrove roots. Roots in general are also indispensable in the care of Saugwelsen, because catfish need smallest wood fibers in the digestion and preservation of the organic health.

.Aquarium setup with plants:

  • Aquarium plants are the green lungs of the aquarium and contribute to a large extent to a good water quality. A sufficient stock of fast-growing plants, such as water spill, Vallisneria and Cabomba, improves the water quality and reduces the consumption of water additives and care products enormously. Rule of thumb: you should set up two to three plants per 10 liters of water in the aquarium.
  • Anyone who cultivates many plants in different colors and shapes will permanently save the use of “balancing agents” that would have to replace the “job” of the missing plants. So-called CO2 plants, with which carbon dioxide (not confused with O2 / oxygen or air) are dosed, also help the more demanding plants to achieve magnificent growth and intense leaf color. In the long term, these fertilizer systems are indispensable, at least for those who want to achieve a really beautiful plant growth. A complete fertilizer and an iron fertilizer are in addition to the weekly dose. They provide the plants with everything they need.


  • If you have filled the ground properly into your aquarium, you can start with the “Hardscape”. This means that you create the underwater landscape by means of the above-mentioned decorative items (roots, stones, etc.) and, if necessary, arrange the picture as you like it. The “softscape” follows immediately after planting. The transport material on the plant roots (cotton wool, lead rings, pots, etc.) must be removed. With a pair of plant tweezers you now put the individual stems or tufts in the gravel. Again, you can rest around until you find the best picture.
  • In between, you can use a water spray bottle to prevent the plants from drying out by slightly moistening them. When the layout is complete, slowly pour lukewarm water into the aquarium. This can either be done with a hose from the tap or with a bucket. However, make sure that you hold one hand under the water jet so that the ground is not stirred up by the sweep of the water. You can also put an old plate on the gravel floor and let the water run on it.

.The structural back wall:

  • A structural back wall is a visually appealing element at the aquarium set up. Depending on size and availability, it is simply cut to fit and glued to the (rear) pane with aquarium silicone. Photo backs are also a possibility, but they are far less natural, but clearly have an advantage in price. Fish also feel much better in aquariums with a rear wall, because they have better orientation / backing and thus suffer less stress.

.Water additives and water care:

  • What would an aquarium be without water? However, to ensure that the aquarium water is always in a healthy balance, it requires regular water tests and the addition of water additives.
  • Water purifier, filter bacteria and plant fertilizer
  • Water conditioners, filter bacteria and plant fertilizers are indispensable. Water from our pipes contains residues of disinfectants from waterworks and can be enriched with heavy metals on the way to the tap. A water conditioner makes these substances innocuous and prevents irritation of the mucous membranes of the fish. Filter starter bacteria activate the self-cleaning process of the water. Excretions of the animals are metabolized by bacteria as food and converted into non-toxic end products. These end products are finally consumed by plants, closing the food cycle. Further nutrients, which are consumed by plants continuously, must be replenished with a plant full and iron fertilizer.

.Water tests:

  • Water tests are the aquarist’s control over the processes of the ecosystem. With easy-to-use test strips to quickly and easily determine the most important water values, so that is guaranteed that really fit all circumstances. Even though the water is clear, this does not guarantee healthy environmental values. Alternatively, there are also drop tests. These are also easy to use, a bit more expensive, but much more accurate.

.The partial water change:

  • Despite all filter technology and maintenance work, a part of the aquarium water must be changed regularly. This is because some substances can not be consumed fast enough by bacteria or plants and in excess could cause fish discomfort or algae growth. With a regular partial water change with power water of about 30% every 10-14 days, the discharge of pollutants is ensured and promoted an entry of fresh minerals from the tap water. It is also assumed that many other substances, which can not be determined with the usual aquarium water tests, have an influence on the well-being of the inhabitants. Extensive experiments have repeatedly shown.

.Cleaning Accessories:

  • Cleaning accessories are used when the aquarium needs to be cleaned from dirt, algae coverings on the windows and food residues. A floor cleaner virtually removes dirt particles, dead plant leaves and food residues; the disc magnet eliminates dirt on the inside of the glass and aquarium glass cleaner helps remove lime and water spots.
  • In the next step you dosed according to instructions the water conditioner and after another hour the cleaning bacteria. These require a few days before they have multiplied in sufficient quantity to be able to sufficiently reduce accumulating dirt of the future restocking. It will probably run so that the water is crystal clear after just a few hours. But do not be fooled by it. At this time, a kind of territorial struggle between beneficial and harmful bacteria, which lasts several days. After two to three days, this may result in milky opacification, which may last for another two to three days. During this time no animals may be used in the new aquarium.
  • Take advantage of this phase to familiarize yourself with the water tests. Test the water several times and note the results. This will give you a better overview of the water chemistry. It often happens that one or the other value has to be corrected. Often the water hardness is too low or the nitrite content (NO2) is too high. In commerce, there are the corresponding preparations for each setpoint deviation for correction. The still often heard statement that the tools are indeed unwanted “chemistry”, can be argued that they are either purely biological substances that are added to the aquarium, or – in the case of a surplus – of pollutants must be removed by adsorber.
  • Only the respective natural equilibrium of the different elements of the water is produced. An endless biological cycle without care, as many wish, is a misconception and biologically impossible. An aquarium is an artificial body of water and has to be considered “artificial” on an ongoing basis. This does not mean, however, that chemistry is used.

.The following water values ​​should be sought for a standard stocking in the freshwater aquarium:

  • pH value (acidity) 7.0
  • Carbonate hardness (KH, calcium content) 5-8 ° DKH
  • Total hardness (GH, mineral content) 6-12 ° DGH
  • Nitrite (NO2, already very toxic from small amounts) below 0.1 mg / l
  • Nitrate (NO3, from increased amounts NO3 promotes algae growth) up to 25mg / l
  • Phosphate (PO4, from small amounts P04 promotes algae growth) to 0.1 mg / l
  • Furthermore, chlorine, copper, silicate, conductivity, potassium, the redox potential, oxygen etc. can be tested. However, this is really important only for advanced or very special aquariums.

Aquarium setup with fish

#:Aquarium setup with fish
  • The technology is right, the water is right? Then it can finally start. The aquarium can finally be equipped with pretty and colorful fish. Of course, there are also some things to keep in mind here.

.The “retraction:

  • An aquarium needs to be retracted for a while before inserting the fish. The technique in the equipped pool should already be running in this phase, even without animals. There are two reasons for this: First, you realize that everything works the way you intended. On the other hand, this time is important for the multiplication of the filter bacteria. If, after at least seven to ten days of warm-up, all values ​​are stable for at least three consecutive days, the first robust animals can be used. In the specialized trade, you can inform yourself about the different types.
  • As a typical Erstbesatz armored catfish and small Saugwelse have been found to be robust. They are not so vulnerable to fluctuations in the still unstable water quality. If they feel comfortable in the aquarium for another three to four days, After re-testing the water parameters, other less robust fish can be used. This process should be done in three to five stages until the final stocking is reached after four weeks at the earliest. You may like to spend more time because your patience is needed here. Otherwise, you risk by food and excretions tipping the water quality and thus the death of your fish. The good bacteria that are supposed to metabolize the accumulating toxins also have a limited proliferation rate and, unlike other harmful bacteria, are slow-growing. You may like to spend more time because your patience is needed here.
  • Otherwise, you risk by food and excretions tipping the water quality and thus the death of your fish. The good bacteria that are supposed to metabolize the accumulating toxins also have a limited proliferation rate and, unlike other harmful bacteria, are slow-growing. You may like to spend more time because your patience is needed here. Otherwise, you risk by food and excretions tipping the water quality and thus the death of your fish. The good bacteria that are supposed to metabolize the accumulating toxins also have a limited proliferation rate and, unlike other harmful bacteria, are slow-growing.

.The first inhabitants:

  • In general, you should think in advance about which fish you want to care for. Note that the animals also come from different parts of the world and should not be mixed in relation to their origin. When buying your animals, make sure that they are from at least the same continent, better still from a closer region, to ensure that the animals also get along well with each other. Until a few years ago, a quarantine was recommended in order to be able to observe new inhabitants before they were introduced and to prevent the spread of possible diseases. This procedure is no longer mandatory, but it can always be done safely in a separate small aquarium.
  • Otherwise, the new fish are given after purchase for gentle habituation to the new water in a clean container (bucket). At intervals of three to five minutes you fill a bucket of aquarium water into the bucket, until the amount of transport water has tripled. Afterwards, the new pets are removed from the bucket with a net and put into the new home. The transport water is poured away. The lights should stay off for the rest of the day – making it easier for the newcomer to calm down. The transport water is poured away. The lights should stay off for the rest of the day – making it easier for the newcomer to calm down. The transport water is poured away. The lights should stay off for the rest of the day – making it easier for the newcomer to calm down.


  • Feeding the fish is also an important factor. Here’s the motto: a little, but often. The biggest mistake that most beginners make in the hobby field of aquaristic is that they feed too much, so they rot the food leftovers and put a heavy strain on the water environment. The rule of thumb for this is probably the most important: Anything that is not eaten within two minutes, was too much and should be left out the next time. For this one may feed one to three times a day, so that the small stomachs are provided with food for a longer time.
  • However, variety should not be missed here: dry food, frozen food and live food should be administered alternately. For the preparation of the feed, it is recommended that several times a week to sprinkle fresh vitamin concentrate on the food. Fishes,

.Aquarium setup takes time:

  • The more patient you show it, the better you can set up your aquarium and experience success. All processes take weeks to months until they work best together; You cannot execute anything in nature. Don’t be stimulated by small failures, they will show you that nature has clear rules and make hobbies more interesting.
  • You see, setting up and maintaining an aquarium is not rocket science. In my opinion: BEST FISH PLATE